Friday, October 5, 2007

The Pastor Doth Protest Too Much

A response to “Something Wicca This Way Comes”
Adventist Review, August 23, 2007

By Andy Hanson

Pastor Wohlberg, it's hard to know or to start. One might begin with a letter written by John Kolessar in Adventist World-NAD, August 2007. In his letter, “A Bowl of Cherries Riding on a Swine”, he makes the comment that “a person living 1000 years ago, or a person living in an Amish community, would incorrectly understand my words and arrive at some ridiculous interpretations, so do we when we try to read the Bible using our perceptions and modern understandings. Without archaeologists and historians of antiquity doing what they do, you might as well believe that I am a bowl of cashews riding on the swine. Giddyup!”

I'm not an historian or archaeologist. However, Mr. Kolessar's letter is a reminder that we should consider the meaning of words in the context of the time in which they were written. Here's my question, “Do you think the author of these words had fantasy fiction in mind?”

Pastor Wohlberg, you cite Deuteronomy 18 twice in your polemic against the Harry Potter series. I'd like to put Deuteronomy 18 in the context of Deuteronomy 17 and 19. How about writing an article for the Review advocating stoning or “an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot?”

If you Google the Internet for articles written about the Harry Potter series, you will find Christians from a variety of religious persuasions praising the series as highly moral. Some authors even equate Harry Potter with Christ, in that he was willing to die to save others.

Those things aside, Pastor Wohlberg, the reason I'm writing this letter is to remind you that every time you preach a sermon, you make reference to a book that graphically describes genocide, rape, dismemberment, lakes of fire, dragons, plagues, and the slaughter of helpless animals. It’s book that tells the story of a boy who killed a giant and carried his severed head around by the hair as a trophy. It’s the book that informs us that because a father buried forbidden booty in the floor of the family’s tent, the entire extended family including animals was stoned to death. It’s the same book in which the command was given for soldiers to murder every female from defeated tribe who was not a virgin. In this book a soldier returning home after a victorious battle killed his daughter because she was the first one to rush out to meet him. Thee is also the story of a woman murdered by a mob of rapists. Her body is then dismembered by the man who threw her into the street. This book also includes the greatest horror story of them all, in which the population of the entire world and all but a handful of people and animals drown in a worldwide flood.

In many stories in this book, killing is either carried out or ordered by a God who was ready to drop me into a lake of fire if I died with one known sin on my conscience. The most terrifying thing of all was that these stories weren’t fantasy; they really happened or would happen for sure in the future.

While I was a child growing up in Adventist home and community, I was encouraged to read this book every day, and the stories in it were referred to constantly in Sabbath school and church. They terrified me and kept me awake at night. The nightmares were vivid and unforgettable. (My father’s blood was really red when the Catholics machine-gunned him!) At that time my home environment was chaotic, and everything I heard in church and school made me feel powerless, without hope, and damned for eternity.

My salvation was fiction. Heroes, preferably children my age, were in charge of their lives to the extent that they could solve mysteries, bring evildoers to justice, and make their parents and friends happy and proud. These books, while not as popular or acclaimed or as well written as the Harry Potter series, helped keep me psychologically safe and sane.

Pastor Wohlberg, I haven't even mentioned that Harry Potter did not die and was resurrected as you reported to your interviewer. Where did you get that information? And this quote, referring to J. K. Rowling is astonishing! “She’s just like Eve. Adam’s wife didn’t know what she was doing when she gave her husband the forbidden fruit, but the consequences were nevertheless tragic.”

The great Wiccan conspiracy has not troubled my dreams as of yet. I’m still trying to come to terms with America’s nightmare war in Iraq and the death and destruction initiated by the “Christian” politicians who meet in Bible study groups every morning. I would much rather those folks “summon ‘natural spirits’ in their rituals”.

Finally, I agree with you, Pastor Wohlberg. Readers even an early age can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. It is my hope that everyone who reads this “News Analysis” can tell the difference.

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